Marine Animal Scholarship Programs

Scuba Diver and diagonal-banded Sweetlip fish
Reinhard Dirscherl / Getty Images

Pursuing a college degree involves a significant financial commitment, and students should take advantage of scholarship programs to defray the cost whenever possible. There are many scholarship opportunities available for students pursuing careers with marine animals (including options such as marine mammalogist, marine mammal trainer, marine biologist, aquatic vet, or aquarist). Here are some of the currently available award programs related to marine science:

Florida Sea Grant

Florida Sea Grant offers a wide variety of scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students that are enrolled at Florida colleges and universities. One well known Sea Grant award is the Aylesworth Scholarship, which was established in 1984 and has been awarded to nearly 100 students to date. Applicants may be pursuing any academic discipline that has a direct application to the field of marine science. Awards of up to $4,000 per year are available (renewable for a total of two years for undergraduate and Masters students, and renewable for up to three years for doctoral students).  Aylesworth applications are due in October. Deadlines for the several other Florida Sea Grant scholarship opportunities vary; please visit the Sea Grant website for details.

International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine

The International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM) offers the Medway Scholarship Program for students interested in pursuing careers in aquatic animal medicine.

Funding (up to $3,000 per student) is available to undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students without stipends or other funding resources. Students must first be accepted to participate in a 10- to 12-week research project funded by government, academic, or corporate entities. The award is designed to defray the student’s expenses while completing their project.

Scholarship winners must present the findings of their research at an IAAAM conference. Applications for the Medway scholarship are due in early March.

Institute for Marine Mammal Studies

The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) offers the Andrew Kemmerer Memorial Scholarship to graduate level students pursuing a degree in the marine sciences. Individual scholarship awards may total up to $1,000 per student.

Marine Aquarium Societies of North America

The Marine Aquarium Societies of North America offers the MASNA Student Scholarship program to North American students pursuing a major in any marine science discipline. Both undergraduate and graduate awards are available (in the amount of $4,000 each). Ideal candidates will also be active in the marine aquarium hobby. The deadline for applications is mid-June.

Marine Technology Society

The Marine Technology Society (MTS) offers many scholarship awards to its members (membership for students is available at the rate of $25 per year). More than a dozen scholarships are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, with award amounts ranging from $500 to $8,000 per student. High school seniors and current college students are eligible to apply.

Applications are due mid-April.  Award recipients will be notified within two months.​

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program. The Foster scholarship is a graduate award that is offered to students majoring in marine biology (women and minorities are particularly encouraged to apply). Up to four scholarships are awarded each year to graduate students pursuing their Masters or PhD degrees. Each award consists of a 12-month stipend of $30,000 plus an additional educational allowance of up to $12,000. Students may also be eligible for an additional $10,000 if they participate in a 4- to 6-week program hosted by a NOAA facility. Applications for the Foster scholarship are due in December.

Women Divers Hall of Fame

The Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) awards scholarships to women who are pursuing careers that incorporate scuba diving (such as marine biology and marine conservation). Several awards are available including an undergraduate scholarship in marine conservation ($1,000), and an undergraduate scholarship marine biology ($1,000), and a graduate scholarship in marine conservation ($2,000). Additional smaller awards are available to cover diving certification course fees. Applications for the WDHOF scholarships are due in late November and winners are notified in February.